Fundamental principles of teaching and learning at Southville Primary School
At our school, we work to provide a curriculum that is both challenging and engaging, encouraging children to be excited about and engaged with their learning whilst also making excellent progress to achieve well in all subjects.
The following principles underpin teaching and learning at our school:
- Provides challenge at all levels
- Is accessible to all children
- Is part of a progressive learning journey
- Promotes a sense of ‘Wow!’
- Shows a clear progression within and across year groups
- Prepares children for being responsible local and global citizens
- Teaches children about their rights and responsibilities
- Promotes a sense of wellbeing and teaches children to recognise, name and communicate their feelings
- Gives children the chance to develop informed opinions and communicate them to others
- Develops creativity both in practice and in thought
Curriculum Overview 2021—2022
Click on the topics to see the essential learning and National Curriculum links.
At our school, we learn many subjects under one umbrella; we call this ‘Immersive Learning’ as the children are fully immersed in a particular topic or theme for a term and become experts in that area of the curriculum. Our immersive curriculum combines writing, history, geography, art, design & technology and science, plus other subjects such as mathematics and physical education where appropriate.
Our ‘Immersive Learning’ curriculum carefully intertwines knowledge and understanding in foundation subjects with the skills children need to write to a high standard and therefore communicate what they have learned. The key benefits of this approach, and the reasons for our decision to implement this curriculum, are:
- The children learn key pieces of knowledge before applying this understanding to their writing; the children therefore always have lots of content for and in their written pieces; writing becomes a purposeful tool used to communicate an idea, opinion or concept
- Foundation subjects are given the same status and value as core subjects, which creates a culture of focus and pride across the whole curriculum
- There is a clear progression of skills in foundation subjects within and across year groups, ensuring breadth and depth is built into daily lessons
- Vocabulary is learned in context and applied across the curriculum, including in reading and writing
- Being surrounded by vocabulary, visuals and prompts, as well as revisiting key linked concepts, supports children with additional needs and those who speak English as an additional language
- Links between and across subjects are made explicit and allow children to build knowledge and understanding over time as well as make links with their own lives and experiences.
Each ‘Immersive Learning’ unit lasts for one term. In any given unit, the children study two or three key driver subjects, one of which is always English. Science is embedded into each topic, sometimes as a key driver. Other subjects may be fed in, depending on the focus of the learning. For example, when studying Antarctica, year 3 focus heavily on geography and science, but elements of history are fed in when studying the exploration of Shackleton and his team. During each block, teachers use the timetable flexibly to provide children with the background knowledge plus the writing skills they will need to successfully create final outcomes, whether these are written or produced. The structure of a term looks like this:
The children’s interest and questions are sought at the beginning of each topic, which are then fed in where possible to future lessons. Each class has a ‘Hook Day’ early on in the topic to get the children immersed and engaged from the outset. The majority of the term is then a process of learning knowledge and skills within context. This culminated in an outcome which incorporates and applies lots of the subject specific knowledge and learning that has happened throughout the topic. This always includes a writing outcome. For example, once year 5 have learned about the Olympics in Ancient Greece, including participating in their own mini Olympics, they write a sports report of one of the events. Each class has a set of ‘topic books’ that link to that particular unit of work. These serve two purposes: 1) as trustworthy and reliable sources of research; 2) as models of quality writing in particular genres.
Our Immersive Learning curriculum ensures full coverage of the National Curriculum in writing, science, history, geography, art and DT. Teachers create a learning overview for each topic which can be found on year group pages on the school website (click here to see an example). Each overview outlines which National Curriculum objectives are covered for each subject to ensure there is full coverage across the course of the year, phase and school. Teachers use subject progression grids to ensure lessons are pitched appropriately and children are challenged. This helps teachers to prioritise objectives when planning and ensures lessons are based around key subject specific concepts.
The curriculum also goes further than the National Curriculum, ensuring children receive as broad an education as possible. For example, in the National Curriculum for geography, the following is required: a study of the UK and a non-European country in KS1; the UK, Europe, North America and South America in KS2. We have gone beyond this and made sure that children learn about a region or country from all seven continents by the time they leave primary school, applying their understanding of location, use of resources, as well as human and physical geography to all.
We aim to support our children in becoming positive citizens of the future and to understand their personal roles and responsibilities as members of the local, national and global communities. To this end, each year group studies one of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, using each goal as the launch pad for a topic. The six UN goals we have chosen are: Life Below Water; Zero Hunger; Good Health & Wellbeing; Clean Water & Sanitation; Climate Action; Peace, Justice & Strong Institutions. Across each year group, there is a balance of key drivers, to ensure a broad and balanced curriculum for all. Over the six terms, there are:
- 3 humanities driven topics (either 2 history + 1 geography or vice versa)
- 1 science driven topic (whichever part of the National Curriculum for science is best studied discreetly)
- 1 art driven topic (an art movement/period/person including art history, architecture, photography, sculpture, crafts)
- 1 global citizenship topic (based on the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals)
At key points in each phase, the children learn about local history and geography, making the curriculum relevant and personalised to our area of Bristol. For example, year 1 study Pesky Pirates, with a focus on ships and characters from our city; year 6 study Bristol Street Art, focusing on the graffiti and street art culture of the local area. Whenever possible, year groups plan enrichment opportunities to support this, such as a year 1 pirate trip through Bristol harbour on The Matthew, a reconstruction of a 15th-century ship.